The Other

Starring: Chris Udvarnoky, Martin Udvarnoky and Uta Hagen
RRP: 14.99
Certificate: 12
Available 17 April 2006

Niles and Holland are two nine-year-old twins who live with their family on a Connecticut farm in the 1930s. They are taught by their grandmother to play a supernatural game. When accidents occur and events take a murderous twist, the increasingly unsettling relationship between the twins comes under scrutiny...

This is another one of those films that's difficult to discuss without giving away major spoilers in the storyline. But I suppose I'd better give it a go, otherwise we'll be here all day discussing such mundane trivialities as the quality of the print (which, since you're asking, is very poor. I have off-air VHS recordings of films from the 80's which have stood the test of time better than this. Sadly, no attempt seems to have been made to clean up the print at all and it shows).

Originally released in 1972, The Other is an adaptation of the spooky novel by Tom Tryon, brought to the big screen by To Kill A Mockingbird director Frank Mulligan. The troubled twins at the centre of the story are sensitively played by Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, and the film is also notable for an early appearance from the late John Ritter, although sadly he gets to do very, very little.

In fact, this tends to be the biggest weakness of the film - other than the twins and their slightly potty Grandmother, nobody seems to get up to anything of much interest. Whilst there are subtle shades of The Omen bubbling beneath the surface, and even a brief sniff of The Sixth Sense twenty-five years before it's time, you spend much of the film's duration wondering if you have stepped into nothing more sinister than a slightly odd episode of Little House On The Prairie.

And so we come to the film's 'twist'. Unusually, the big twist occurs only halfway through the film, leaving the last half to play out the repercussions of the revelation. Whilst I'm not going to give any spoilers away here, it has to be said that even a lamb would have spotted it coming within ten minutes of the opening credits. Maybe we're a more discerning breed of viewer these days, and the twist may well have had more impact on the film's original release over thirty years ago, but it does seem to me that the over-the-top crescendo that is the supposedly 'revelatory' scene is completely redundant and will leave the modern viewer cold.

Surprisingly, the film does begin to pick up a little once the twist is out of the way, as we become genuinely interested in the final outcome of this small drama, but it's too little too late. Further shocks and surprises seem to be signposted but never really materialise - the climax of the film is a little ambiguous and ultimately, rather flat. Whilst never having read the original novel myself, I am reliably informed that the book delves far deeper and gives a much clearer final picture of events.

Special features on the disc are minimal - a trailer, image gallery, shooting scripts and, curiously, music cue sheets of Jerry Goldsmith's original score (over half of which was cut during post-production of the film).

I'm sure The Other could be regarded as a reasonably entertaining film if you're after something light and not too taxing or rewarding, but this reviewer was left with nothing more than an urge to watch a couple of the really good films it vaguely reminded him of.

Danny Salter

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